Wild land conservationists at the John Muir Trust (JMT) today welcomed the result of a Scottish Natural Heritage public consultation on its core wild land map (see UKH news), calling it a 'resounding endorsement' of the proposal to step up the protection of Scotland's most valuable and vulnerable landscapes.
Stuart Brooks, chief executive of the JMT, said:
'The scale of support for the map and the eloquence of the responses underline how passionately people value Scotland’s wild land.'
'We would now urge politicians of all parties to come together to support the map as the next step towards protecting Scotland’s world famous wild land from unsightly and ecologically damaging development.'
'In particular we would ask the Scottish Government to include a reference to the wild land map in the draft National Planning Framework, which is now being scrutinised by parliamentary committees.'
According to the Trust’s own analysis of the 410 responses received:
- 80 per cent back the wild land map
- 14 per cent oppose the map
- 6 per cent are neutral
All 410 responses can be downloaded here.
Some argue that the core areas concept does not go far enough, and that significant areas deserving of inclusion have been omitted from the map as it stands. There were inevitable questions on the methodology used to define wild land too. Nevertheless hundreds of individuals and dozens of organisations, including environmental charities, councils, community groups, and national bodies such as SportScotland and Historic Scotland were broadly in favour of the the principle of wild land mapping.
Most notable among the objectors were of course energy companies, who often complain that the planning system is already weighted against them.
For the JMT the map is about protecting wild land from energy corporations and landowners intent on exploiting it for profit, they say, rather than adding restrictions to local communities in a marginal rural economy.
'As one of the main driving forces campaigning for the map, the John Muir Trust would emphasise that this is not about preventing small-scale development of renewables or other infrastructure by communities and local people' said John Hutchison, chair of the JMT.
'This is about stopping the mass industrialisation of our wildest landscapes under tangles of turbines, pylons, road and power sub-stations. These developments might generate lavish profits for landowners and distant shareholders, but they create few if any jobs for local people.'